Friday, January 25, 2013

Supply and Demand

The BBC reports that a recent recruitment initiative by a police force was flooded with enquiries, and has had to be closed. Police recruitment has slowed to a trickle across the country in recent times, and in many cases service as a Special Constable or PCSO is a prerequisite before you can even apply.
The proposed cut in starting pay doesn't seem to have deterred applicants and I suspect that I know why.
The police service is seen by many people as a secure pensionable job (and the same applies to the equally oversubscribed fire service) with decent opportunities for promotion for those who want it. In times such as these many people see these features as being very attractive, even post-cutbacks, hence the flood of applicants. Police fire and prison jobs will all be attractive to the many soon-to-be redundant military personnel, among whom many of the required skills are already present.
The police will need to keep recruiting in the medium term to avoid the service becoming unbalanced  (come to think of it the same applies to magistrates).
Gadget has just posted about an officer who has had enough and is leaving the Job. That is personally sad for the man concerned, but in the new brutal triple-dip world the politicians will shrug, and think "If they knows of a better hole, let them go to it". Brutal yes, fair, no, but that's the world we live in. 
Public service pay and conditions won't be getting better any time soon.

24 comments:

  1. The police service suffered from the freeze in the early 1970s which gave rise to a shortage of inspectors in the eighties and so on. The press has recently commented on the lack of diversity of participants a the Strategic Command Course. Those present would typically have been recruited in the early to mid 1990s, when the idea of recruiting someone black, female, gay, public school educated or without a degree was not credible.

    As ye reap, so shall ye sow. (Galatians 6:7-8)

    ReplyDelete
  2. But surely the point is that the police is in the majority a vocational role and therefore if those who approach it that way are forced out due to the working conditions (yes we would all point to secure, yeah right, pay and pensions, but how many would do it day in day out when your every action is scrutinised in the way that it seems to be in this day and age) and replaced by those who just want the pay and pensions, the whole force is weakened as a result?

    This is not good for the country!

    ReplyDelete
  3. When I left school in the late 1960s it was the way that the kids in the B and C classes went into the services (mostly Army) because it was a 'job for life'. The kids in the A stream were a bit smarted and went into professional jobs or the civil service.

    Being half German, I see a trait with the British to look for a job for life. Something they can do for 50 years without changing anything or even advancing. If they can do this, they call it success.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. a) The armed forces and police only require 30 years.

      b) Being English working in Germany, I see the same thing in the Deutsche Post, D Bahn, banks, and above all the masses with Beamter (sp?) status.

      Delete
    2. But what is wrong with this? Not everyone is, or wants to be, an entrepreneur. We don't all want to be gamblers, money grubbers, speculators. We wouldn't want to live in a society where everyone is looking to cut everyone else's throat to make a fast buck. The Thatcherite ideal of breeding wealth-creators and training them up in schools does not suit a wide range of personality types, including people whose chief desire is for security (and that is a great many people). Such people, who will also have a regard for fair play, observation of civilised norms, respect for the law and so on, would naturally be drawn to those organisations in our society which secure its stability and make it safe for ordinary people, those who aren't aspirational wheeler dealers and innovators. Being a policeman would be a pretty good match.

      Delete
    3. The only problem with your analysis above, Briar, is that the Attestation all constables have to swear requires them to show "fairness, integrity, dignity and impartiality, upholding fundamental human rights and according equal respect to all people"; if you've dismissed most of them (who have to live in the real world and make a living) as "gamblers, money grubbers [and] speculators" and all the other less than flattering descriptors you choose to characterise the rest of society, you end up thinking that the only people worth looking after are people like yourself, and that causes a bit of a problem when it comes to the bit about "fairness, dignity and impartiality" and is totally at odds with the principle of "according equal respect to all people" (especially when you have nailed your colours to the mast so clearly by describing "ordinary people" as all those who aren't aspirational or innovators - no wonder the Police Federation is so worried by Tom Winsor). As for the "upholding of fundamental human rights", I shan't even go there. These apply to all, and not just those you choose.

      Delete
  4. £19000 might be a fair starting salary for someone in their late teens/early 20s, but one of the strengths of the police is that it has always been possible to recruit older people who are changing careers, and who are often seen as a better bet than wet behind the ears teenagers. I can't see many such people, who will probably have mortgages and families, being able to live on this salary. After tax and pension contributions, they may not clear £1000 per month.
    The argument about supply and demand doesn't really ring true either. If you take that to it's logical extreme, you would simply reduce the salary until you had the minimum number of acceptable candidate for the available jobs. I'm sure there are plenty barristers who would jump at the chance to have the security and prestige of being a judge for half the current salary, but I doubt you'd see an increase in the quality if the judiciary.
    The reduction in salary has to be seen in context with the other police reforms of compulsory severance and direct entry. My own view is that the government wants a large rump of poorly paid drones who they can hire and fire at will, ruled over by an elite officer class recruited direct from university or industry. The police need reforming do sure, but this is not the way to go about it.
    I don't by the "there is no money and no alternative line". They could find £100 million to arrange PCC elections which no one asked for and in which no one took any interest. I would have preferred to see the money spent on keeping starting salaries at a reasonable level, and sorting out the selection process so that the right people are recruited.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Bowstreetrunner26 January 2013 11:40

    But the obsession with qualifications is a real problem. Some idiot reckons all police should have degrees; I think this would be balmy. As in everything you need a mix, you need big tough guys( and girls) who can deal with public order, who probably don't want to get up the greasy pole and spend their time arse licking. Also,you need very inteligent people who you would never send near a public order situation but can get inside of the mind of the cyber and white collar criminal.

    The trouble is these days many who are recruited have no real experience of life and lack the common sense to be a proper bobby. In my view those who have been in the services should be recruited more. They know how to obey orders, know how to dress and can look after themselves and have already displayed a willingness to serve.

    bin the political correctness and recruit proper cops.

    And.............we don't need any foreigners to run the police, there are plenty leaders here, they just need to be found

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You mean barmy. As someone with a degree, I entirely agree. Haven't lots of those who've been investigated for involvement with the newspapers got degrees?
      To put it simply, there's a lot in policing which doesn't need a degree, it just needs some intelligence and training, and good physical reactions.

      Delete
  6. I think that you would find that most applicants for uniformed public services apply because they don't want to do a boring office job. They believe that their job will be varied and interesting and the more perceptive will look forwards to the challenges that it will bring their way. At the age of 20 or so a pension is a lifetime away and is a mere detail and £19000 a year probably seems like a fortune to those who have only ever had a part time job.

    ReplyDelete
  7. @BowStreetRunner has it right. Remember too the reality of the canteen culture which still,(yes, really) prevails. If someone with a double starred first from Oxbridge joined, they would be all but ostracised in most forces. HR recruiters are smart enough to know this so don't recruit at that level. (Don't be tsken in by the Inspector Lindley TV stories.) The Police College which is in the throes of being established seeks to provide all cops with a qualification in policing, so it shouldn't matter whether you are a "three GCSE or a PhD level entrant. This is about as smart as the railway unions teaching train guards to be drivers. The qualification level will be set by cops, for cops and assessed by (go on, guess....).
    The mix of cops, from cadets at 17 to experienced managers of 30 or 40 as the recruitment entry points would yield a much more balanced force able to deal with everything from white collar crime, international organised crime, and the stuff that Inspector Gadget seems to spend his time with at neighbourhood levels.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is not the force I recognise. The canteen culture has gone completely, not least because there is no canteen – but mainly because there is no opportunity for the shift to get together in work time.

      Also recruitment teams go out of their way to recruit a degree level if they possibly can.

      The recruitment selection process is set up by psychologists (who have no police experience) from the (old) NPIA, with very little police input and have very strict marking guidelines. Each assessment takes at least 20 assessors, plus quality assurance teams and back room staff.

      The majority of recruitment assessors are in fact not cops, but so called ‘lay assessors’ which are supposed to be members of the community with no policing experience.

      Basic pay for a lay assessor pay is £100 per day + accommodation and meals, so in practice they are a band of people who roam the land doing nothing but police recruitment at great cost to the police forces which have to suffer it.

      Since this whole process was imposed by the old Labour government in 2004/04 the quality of recruits dropped significantly.

      Delete
  8. And above all, don't repeat the nonsense when one of the forces deliberately binned applications from white males (or was it white females too?) and paid out a lot of public money to the victims of that unlawful and unconscionable behaviour.

    Anonymous working in Germany: your spelling is correct for a man, but for a woman it is Beamtin and the German public sector has gone for so-called targets big time. A woman who only got promoted because there was a target to hit is called a Quotenfrau, quota-woman, and there's a lot of them about. A mistake we must,must, must avoid.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I am always intrigued by the fact that in many denates, across a plethora of subjects, there are always those who beleive they have an opinion and it must be shared/publicised to the rest of the world. It oft turns out that the loudest mouthpieces are the ones who have no direct experience of that which they profess to have the answer to.

    Quite often, I come across them 24hrs a day, out of their skulls on drink and/or drugs, when I am lucky enough to be awarded the benefit of their knowledge on how th epolice should do their jobs.

    Now it would appear, the world and his dog is an expert on who joins the police, who should join the police and what qualifications they need to be an effective officer.

    I am so glad that those outwith the service have such an in depth, researched and informed knowledge of the topic. You must really put a lot of spare time into researching my profession, and gaining that first hand experience which entitiles you to comment with credibility.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To interpret: "Only police officers are allowed to comment on policing, police recruitment, the qualifications needed to be a police officer, etc.".

      It may be because such views were becoming dangerously prevalent (to the point of being perceived as preventing proper oversight of policing) that Tom Winsor was asked to review the state of policing (when precisely the same arguments were advanced in an attempt to prevent him from digging too deep), and certainly because of what he exposed that he was appointed as Chief Inspector of Constabulary. It may also explain why it was felt necessary to put in place Police and Crime Commissioners, who were intended to dispense with the cosy propinquity of police authorities. That their role was misbegotten and badly botched in its implementation does not remove the structural problems they were intended to address.

      P.S. I'm neither out of my skull on drugs nor alcohol, nor am I a dog!

      Delete
  10. I'm always intrigued by the fact that there are two groups of people who think they're entitled to pontificate on the world, the universe and even existence itself without anyone being able to call into doubt their often highly questionable and usually self-interested views. The first such group is composed of politicians. The longer they remain in office and the more they accumulate mandates, the greater their separation from the reality of their constituents is, and the more they come to believe they alone hold the answers to everything, and see themselves as being above everyone else, and even above the law.which brings me neatly to the second group, namely our trusty guardians of public order, the police. They make politicians seem reflective by comparison, and whilst politicians relish an argument, and like nothing better than a debate (so long as it is accepted that whatever they say is absolutely 100% accurate, even if they've just plucked a figure from thin air), the defining characteristic of the average policeman or woman is their absolute and utter refusal to listen to anyone else's point of view, to the point that when anyone dares to try and correct their instant judgement of a situation (be that one of those involved or a bystander), the immediate response is to threaten them with arrest. This may explain the growing crisis of confidence of the public in the police, not just on the part of young people, who are so often treated with inexcusable rudeness and even brutality, but more and more often the public at large, including those who used to have unquestioning confidence in the fundamental fairness of the police. Interestingly, the only exception to this trend would appear to be PCSOs, who not only do get out and meet the people, but haven't (yet?) developed the reflex of considering anyone they meet as toe-rags or toffs, each to be treated with contempt.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For the millionth time, don't exaggerate.

      Delete
    2. Very good!

      Careful, though, you'll get dragged in too.

      Delete
  11. Wow, I am seriously impressed. You have managed to get yourself around the country to meet all one hundred thousand officers AND got to know them well enough to be able to judge them and their characters. That must have taken a while. Can I ask how long you spent with each section per station and how you measured how much time they spent doing each role required of them?

    Or are you just another mouthpiece with an opinion based on little first hand knowledge?

    Just asking.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of those hundred thousand, 32,000 were the subject of public complaints in 2011 and 2012. No wonder the IPCC is struggling.

      Delete
  12. Gosh. That's 1 in 3. What other profession could 'boast' of similar levels of dissatisfaction?
    Kate Caveat

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Apparently the BBC got 240,000 complaints...

      Delete
  13. Apparently the BBC got 240,000 complaints...

    ReplyDelete

Posts are pre-moderated. Please bear with us if this takes a little time, but the number of bores and obsessives was getting out of hand, as were the fake comments advertising rubbish.